The US does not have the finest health care

RochesterMarch 19, 2013 

I enjoyed Kathleen Rogers light-hearted piece on the woes of being a conservative west of the Cascades, but unfortunately along with her witty observations, she perpetuates the myth that the United States has “the finest medical system in the world.”

This naive misunderstanding is often espoused by those who prefer to maintain the status quo of the corporate-run health care system.

If by “finest” she means most expensive, she’s right. We spend far more than any other country on health care. If she means one can get a hip to knee replacement anytime they want, whether or not it is medically indicated, she is right (assuming you have insurance or can pay for it).

But if “finest” is defined in the traditional sense of measurable morbidity and mortality, such as life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, childhood nutritional health, etc., the U.S. ranks first in no category, and usually is quite far down on the list.

We pay the most money and get less per dollar return than any other country in the world. These well-documented facts are often inconvenient to those preferring to maintain our current dysfunctional system, both because it is anathema to admit that a socialist system might do better than our capitalist one and it forces acknowledgement of all those millions of people in this country who can’t afford the “finest medical system in the world.”

If we want to call ourselves the finest, we need to include everyone in the definition.

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